- From vanitas to veneration: the embellishments in the anatomical cabinet of Frederik Ruysch
- Journal of the History of Collections
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 2
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
The elaborate way in which the Dutch anatomist Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731) decorated and presented his anatomical cabinet has raised questions as to whether we should view him as a scientist or rather as an artist. The concept of the collection as ‘baroque monument’ or as merely ‘bizarre’ fails to acknowledge its complexity, as can be demonstrated by quantitative analyses of its contents. Furthermore, these analyses show how the nature of the embellishments changed through time and how the vanitas element gradually made way for statements about the magnificence of the human body and its Creator. In his cabinet, Ruysch juxtaposed the ‘divine embroidery’ of the body with textiles made by human hand, thereby emphasizing the existence of an intellectual entity that was responsible for the human fabric. This way of working concurred with contemporary physico-theological discourses against atheism, in which the so-called argument from design gained dominance.
- go to publisher's site
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.